Nieman Journalism Lab on the newsonomics of how and why

Explainer posts and “Top XX Reasons Why” posts are rooted in the notion that we want more than the 5w’s lede. Consumers desire more than the “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nut_graph.”

And with the popularity of sites like Five Thirty Eight and Upworthy, it’s worthy studying a bit…

Try this: Make a list with two simple columns. On the left, write Who, What, When, and Where. On the right column, write How and Why. Then, go to any news site — local, national, or global — or even to a print newspaper and see which questions the stories you see answer.

At most news sites, the hashmarks will fill up quickly in the left column — slowly, if at all, in the right one. That’s the column for explanatory journalism — the new craze of the past year, but built on ideas as old as good journalism itself.

Explainer journalism derives from knowledge — and from ignorance. “Our authority comes from knowing what we do and don’t know,” Leonhardt says. It also lets readers know “we’re trying to think it through.”

Explainer journalism assumes a certain curiosity and appetite among intelligent readers — and that alone is worth understanding.

via The newsonomics of how and why » Nieman Journalism Lab.

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